Monday, May 22, 2017

Vampire Lust

My children refer to me as the show killer.  If I am drawn to a show that has any kind of supernatural theme it dies. My kill ratio is almost without exception, there have only been one or two survivors.  Invariably if the theme is people with special abilities or if the show is set in an alien or space landscape the program will get its initial 13 episodes and then be gone.

Vampires, witches, aliens, people who do not age and unnaturally gifted people, these are the shows that strike my fancy.  Apparently theses shows strike quite a few people’s fancies because every television season a new crop of shows about the undead or people who can see through the boundaries of this mortal coil arise.  The question becomes why do we like these shows?

Over time I have returned to that question and pondered it.  My thoughts on the topic are three fold when it comes to television serials involving these groups of people.  First, we are drawn to worlds where the rules of our world don’t apply.  Second, there is this death-eroticism nexus that intrigues us.  Finally there is the pretty people factor.

On the first point I offer this.  Most people, not all, but most people that plop down in front a video device to watch a program about vampires or young people on an abandoned world or people who hop between time periods are folks whose lives are really rather regimented.  We go to work.  We drop off the kids.  We do the grocery shopping.  We mow the yard.  We have sex on Friday night or Sunday morning.  Regimentation rules our lives.  Rules rule our lives.

We face deadlines and dress codes.  We are overbooked and our lives have no margins.  Thus when we see people who don’t give a flaming fuck about the rules and live in an alternate world to our own, maybe interacting with us, or maybe not it offers us an escape.  We are able to live out mentally a little fantasy about draining the blood from those who constrain us and further of making them slaves to our will. We want the freedom of those living in the alternate universe together with the excitement and the danger.

iZombie is a favorite of mine.  Liv tries to live to a human moral code while driven by an internal Zombie lust for brains that is raging and uncontrollable.  We can empathize with that.  We love the complexity these characters have to navigate.  Why, because we have to navigate complexity but ours is so boring and so mundane. We want to break the rules and when we are watching fantasy we applaud those characters who without hesitation break centuries old codes. For a great example of these check out the Dusk ‘til Dawn television series.

The death eroticism thing cannot be underestimated.  We are all scarred out of our minds by our own mortality.  If we think on it too long at a stretch we get palpitations and our guts churn and we hyperventilate.  Each and every single one of us is going to die and we don’t, we really don’t, want to go.  So what is the antithesis of death?  Why the antithesis of death is wild sex, abandoned and filled erotic passion. 

If we make the characters vampires you can even blend these two elements. Pale but pretty undead creatures go at it like Montana Wildhack in some blue tinted porno about naughty nurses gone berserk on a sex stimulant.  We want an explosive release from our mortality. Watching the beautiful undead having passions, having sex, having elegance (don’t forget they are always drinking blood or fine wines at tables with the best silver and exquisite porcelain on white line with lots of candles) we for a few moments get that.  We can overlay our passions, the ones we thought would be eternal, on these story lines.

Don’t ever forget the third element, the pretty factor.  No single being in a fantasy show that is going to last more than an episode is other than young and beautiful.  The men are hard bodies who spend lots of time shirtless showing off their six packs. The women are buxom and always busting out of leather garments that barely constrain their bosoms.  When like pretty people.  We react to pretty people.  If no one is around we masturbate to beautiful people doing hot dirty things.  Yeah combine these three factors and we are drawn to these shows like moths to a flame.

Me, I just happen to pick the ones that have themes that are just not romantic enough.  Time travel is always the sugar that lures me into the amber.  But vampires and their passions, their blood and eternal struggle, these are the folks that hit all the major points above for most people. 

The Gargoyle Hunters at Page 100

Books open doors to worlds we can never inhabit.  There are a form of internet for the imagination taking you to places an author has defined with words and description. Well-crafted books create worlds, expose worlds and make you feel a part of those worlds if only for a time.

A book I am reading me now, it is taking me to the New York of the late 1970s. This is the second book I have read about Gotham in that era in the last six months. This one seems to be the better of the two.

What I am reading is part family drama and part adventure tale.  In large measure it is also an homage to the craftsmanship of 19th century immigrant builders in American.  The Gargoyle Hunters  is not what I would call a page turner so much as it is a leisurely pick it up whenever tale.  While I am reading it I am thoroughly enjoying it.  However, when I have put it down and gone on to other things it does not immediately call me back.  Some books have an allure; they just demand to be read.  The Remains of the Day was that way for me. Another book I could not put down, although it has been years since I read it, was Hermann Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund.  

I digress.

At this point I have read about the first 100 pages of the The Gargoyle Hunters and I am pretty sure I will finish it.  Stark images of urban decay always fascinate me.  The main characters make a living out of architectural theft. In some instances theft might be too harsh a description.  Taking pieces of the cornice of a demolished tenement from a rubble pile before it is carted away hardly seems like theft.  But other instances where the duo “salvage” old world craftsmanship are much less ambiguously theft plain and simple.

Most of my interest in the father and son duo of architectural pilferers is driven by my love of my adopted home city of Toronto, Ontario.  For years Toronto was seemingly stuck in time. Old Ontario yellow brick buildings and large Dominion edifices populated the landscape.  With the city’s growth those old buildings are disappearing quickly.  Places like Kensington Market with its row homes are under siege.  All of the filigree, the gargoyles, the mosaics, and the cast scenes of work’s value in the industrial age are being discarded. What a crime, what a loss.

At this point I really don’t know where The Gargoyle Hunters will lead me and whether at the end I will feel that it wasted “my precious time.” Still, I am going to give the account a shot.

Another reason I am reading it is more selfish.  When I don’t read something other than the swamp of political commentary that is awash around us, I don’t get ideas for my personal writing.  Reading for me sparks creativity.

I will let you know what I think when I am done.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

This Blog's Goals

Feeling devoid of inspiration this late afternoon bleeding into evening, I went looking for a source of writing prompts.  What I found with the help of an omnipresent search engine was something from Word Press.  Surprise it was a blog post that promised a prompt a day.  Not a bad thing I thought to myself.

Scrolling through the list I found a couple prompts intrigued me.  One was write down what was the 11th item on your bucket list.  11th you say, well that was a no brainer.  I want to tour provincial parliament building in Manitoba or Saskatchewan or maybe both. Another prompt that caught my attention was to detail your response to a gift that brought out bittersweet memories.  Too much of what I write is bittersweet. But what would that bittersweet gift be, this was the intriguing question? Maybe it would be a crumpled list someone found while cleaning out my old high school showing what scholarship I might have been awarded had I not run naked through the halls of that building.  Maybe it would be a menu of an old favorite restaurant long gone.

The prompt I settled on was, “When you started your blog did you set goals?  Did you meet them?” I am at 647 posted items on this blog.  Maybe, just maybe, it is time to think about these questions.

My blog arose out of a friend urging me to write down some of the tales I would tell sitting around the Beaner’s coffee shop on Ottawa Street in Lansing, MI.  Some of the stories were self-effacing.  Some of the stories were profane, right up there with the telling of the Aristocrats joke.  Some were wry and involved the suspension of belief, the never let the truth get in the way of a good story kind of anecdote. I thought my friend might have a point.  Some of the stories needed to be captured. 

Did I set any goals?  Yes.  What were they? Well, that is hard to say.  I guess the main goal that I had was not to create a blogsite and then just let it sit there empty.  When I started my blog all those years back I surveyed a number of blogs that were on sites like the one I use, Blogger.  A great number of them started out strong.  There were months of postings but then they just petered out.  I guess my main goal was not to let the writing die out.

Did I succeed?  I think so.  There are dry periods with my blog ...but I always come back to it.  Right now, my writing is in “on” mode.  Funny what happens when you disengage with Facebook.  Suddenly the words come back.  Suddenly the time to write the words reappears.

There was probably one other goal. There were about four core stories I wanted to capture. I have gotten down three of four of them.  The piece about Blubbery Hill was one.  The tale about taking LSD on a Baptist youth retreat was another.  I think I got both of these down pretty well.  A third one was to tell the story of the aliens in the high school hallway.  Got that down too.

One story has always eluded me.  It was the one about the suddenly gay golden glove boxer on many hits of LSD coming to kill me with his 9mm pistol.  This one is really hard to set down.  I mean the boxer kept selling the acid and taking a hit each time he sold one.  Then he, um, went upstairs with one of my gay roommates and had an encounter.  Apparently tripping balls was not the time for this guy to explore his sexuality.  He decided a forceful response was required.  It involved a gun and kicking in my front door.

As I was hiding under the twin bed in the basement of that big old Sears house on Lansing’s east side wedged between my lesbian roommate and the initiator of the sex acts that led to the FREAK OUT WITH THE GUN that led to my front door being kicked in I kept thinking I did not want my parents to have to learn I died in a drug and sex fueled slaughter.  But this is such a small sliver of the story.  Yeah, I have never been able to catch that one on paper.  Maybe I will simply record a video of me telling the story and then post it.  Could be way simpler.

Okay so did I set goals, yes.  Did I meet them?  Mostly.  I am good with that state of affairs.

Saturday's Sleeping World

When I awoke I thought I had enjoyed a good long night’s sleep.  My Fitbit told me a different story.  Pert its electronic tabulation of my slumbers I had garnered less than six hours of sleep.  I was in bed by 10:30 p.m. and I awoke at 5:55 a.m.  These hours spent in the sack should have put me in the 6+ hour’s range of sleep.  Six hours is roughly the minimum I need to be functional.  Instead my log showed about 5 hours and 15 of sleep.  I don’t know; it seems like I must have been restless and not realized it. 

It was a cool night I should have slept well. 

When I was up I was up however.  I had showered and was making the breakfast for three by about 6:20.  Oatmeal for my wife and me.  It was liberally sprinkled with banana slices and apple chunks.  Fresh baked biscuits and ham were set out for the boy.  At the end of the meal I just set the dishes in the sink.  Later, later, much-much later I will attend to the clean-up.

My feet hit the pavement early.  By Saturday 6:59 a.m. I was six minutes into my 40 minute walk. The roads were quiet. Seemed like everybody was sleeping in today. Not a car was in sight. No sounds did I hear but those of squirrels and birds. I did hear one gas line at the side of an older house.  Otherwise there was nothing that suggested the normal busyness of humanity was ready to take hold and grab the day.

Really can't blame people for trying to get the most out of a Saturday morning. At week’s end most of us are beat down exhausted. Doesn't matter what kind of job you work at. Your boss always wants more. Life stresses outside of the productivity squeezing office are always increasing. People have no margins anymore. There is no dead time because with modern electronics we are always accessible.

Morning train whistle blew from the south east at great distance. Mournful and low, it that low steady tone brought memories of Johnny Cash songs.

Hopefully people were bunched up under their down covers on the 45° morning.  Hopefully there were sleeping in and getting a full eight hours. Me I walked on, it is what I do.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My hopes for this day are simple ones. I hope that I can pass through the day causing no one injury. I hope that my pain level throughout the day is low. I hope those around me simply get along. Today I can live without ecstasy. I will trade that for having no agony.

Please give me a few hours with golden light. Let me hear a lunatic squirrel going chuck chuck-chuck chuck and a bird going E-E. Let my words be gentle and my heart be caring. I guess that sums up my agenda for the day.

Comments and Questions on a May Evening

Jason Isbell is playing out of the speakers of my Mac. I am finishing up another chapter of The Gargoyle Hunters. Good book so far. I like the thoughts of the author on the vanishing city/the reborn city.  His comparison of trying to stop change in an urban environment being akin to trying to stop the ocean from smashing washed up seashells into nothing really reminds of my feelings each time I return to Toronto.  Neighborhoods are vanishing but there is always something new when the dust settles.

Are you living the life chose? Are you taking the grown-up dose? This is what Mr. Isbell is singing right now to me.

The words of a poet, and let us admit it in America our poets are our singer-songwriters in large part, can be more than the sum of black words on a white page in narrative.  At 61 I find myself asking the are you living the life you chose question quite often.  A hundred variations of that question pass through my head each day.  Do other people feel like this I wonder?  Is there any single person who feels fulfilled?

As to the are you taking the adult dose well that query hangs around me too.  Am I being the adult in my relationships with my children, my peers, my wife and my family, these cycle through my head.  Can I take the things in life an adult is supposed to be able to handle? I haven’t fucked it all up.  If needed I could pay off my house and all my loans and live a very meager life for my remaining years.  But do I have the maturity and experience to say I can really take the adult dose.  How long will it be before there is nobody to check to see if I am alright?